A disclaimer first – Facebook has changed its name to Meta, but I’ll be using the old name since it’s what everyone knows it by.
Facebook is so popular that it has become synonymous with social media, there’s no doubt about that. But today, we’ll be talking about the company’s finances. Revenue, income, expenses, investments, and how these translate to what may be one of the most interesting success stories in the world.
But first, a few key stats:
- Facebook generated a revenue of $116 billion in 2022 with a profit of $23.1 billion. Clearly, they know what they’re doing, unlike Twitter
- Facebook (Meta Platforms) is valued at $441.76 billion dollars at the time of writing this article, making it the 13th most valuable company in the world. Apple holds first place at $2.321 trillion dollars
- It took 5 years for Facebook to become profitable ($650 million in revenue and profits in the “tens of millions of dollars“)
- Facebook’s revenue increased by 5,820% and its profits by 6,150% from 2010 to 2022 (from $1.97 billion to $116.6 billion in revenue and from $370 million to $23.1 billion in profit)
- Around 46.7% of Facebook’s entire revenue comes from North America
- 2022 is the first year in Facebook’s entire financial history when its revenue decreased (from $117.92 billion in 2021 to $116.6 billion) likely due to its increased focus on the Metaverse
- In 2021, Facebook hit the $1 trillion market cap, but in 2022, it had lost nearly two-thirds of its value
All in all, Facebook seems to be doing just fine for itself. But we need a more in-depth look to truly understand what made Facebook successful.
Below, I’ll go into more detail about Facebook’s revenue, profits, and expenses over the years and offer commentaries to help you understand it better.
Annual Revenue and Profit from 2009 to 2022
Let’s take a look at Facebook’s revenue and profit over the years, starting with 2009, the first year the company had a positive cashflow (courtesy of Statista):
|2009||$777 million||Unknown (estimated at a few tens of millions of dollars)|
|2010||$1.974 billion (154.1% increase from last year)||$606 million|
|2011||$3.711 billion (88% increase from last year)||$1 billion (66% increase from last year)|
|2012||$5.089 billion (37.14% increase from last year)||$53 million (94.7% decrease from last year)|
|2013||$7.87 billion (54.7% increase from last year)||$1.5 billion (2,740% increase from last year)|
|2014||$12.46 billion (58.4% increase from last year)||$2.94 billion (96% increase from last year)|
|2015||$17.92 billion (43.9% increase from last year)||$3.688 billion (25.2% increase from last year)|
|2016||$27.63 billion (54.2% increase from last year)||$10.21 billion (177% increase from last year)|
|2017||$40.65 billion (47.13% increase from last year)||$15.93 billion (56.1% increase from last year)|
|2018||$55.83 billion (32.43% increase from last year)||$22.1 billion (39% increase from last year)|
|2019||$70.69 billion (26.62% increase from last year)||$18.48 billion (16.38% decrease from last year)|
|2020||$85.96 billion (21.6% increase from last year)||$29.1 billion (56.5% increase from last year)|
|2021||$117.92 billion (37.19% increase from last year)||$39.2 billion (35% increase)|
|2022||$116.6 billion (1.1% decrease from last year)||$23.1 billion (41% decrease from last year)|
It seems that, in terms of revenue, Facebook has been on a consistent uptrend ever since 2010, with the biggest increase in 2011 (88% increase).
Profit-wise, the company has had some rough patches with notable decreases in 2012, 2019, and 2022. The 2012 decrease of 94.7% from $1 billion to $53 million was especially harrowing, though the following year, the company made a sweeping $1.5 billion in profit. And from then on, it continued bringing in more profits.
The biggest increase in profit was in 2016 when Facebook made an astounding $10.21 billion in profit, a 177% increase from last year’s $3.688 billion.
Notably, in 2016, Facebook’s advertising revenue went from $17.079 billion to $26.885 billion due to some well-placed investments. The company upped its advertising expense by 10.4% from $281 million to $310 million.
Their marketing and sales expenses went up by more than 38% from $2.725 billion to $3.772 billion, which ended up making them even more money.
As for why 2016 was so successful for Facebook, the rumors say that it was because of the platform’s role in the 2016 presidential election. It was heavily used for political campaigns, which brought the company incredible revenue and, of course, profits.
2016 was also the year when the whole Cambridge Analytica scandal took place, with the app harvesting the data of more than 87 million Facebook profiles. They used this data to offer analytical assistance to the presidential campaigns of Donald Trump and Ted Cruz.
Now you know why Facebook’s finances went through a massive uptick in 2016 😀
Annual Advertising & Marketing and Sales Revenue and Expenditure from 2009 to 2022
Facebook (Meta) has one of the most robust advertising monetization campaigns in the world, and they really capitalized on it over the years.
Take a look at their annual ad expenditure and revenue, as well as the marketing & sales expenditure from 2009 to the present to notice the evolution:
|Year||Ad Revenue||Ad Expenditure||Marketing & Sales Expenditure|
|2010||$1.868 billion||Unknown||$167 million|
|2011||$3.154 billion||Unknown||$393 million|
|2012||$4.279 billion||Unknown||$896 million|
|2013||$6.986 billion||Unknown||$997 million|
|2014||$11.492 billion||$135 million||$1.67 billion|
|2015||$17.079 billion||$281 million||$2.725 billion|
|2016||$26.885 billion||$310 million||$3.772 billion|
|2017||$39.942 billion||$324 million||$4.725 billion|
|2018||$55.013 billion||$1.11 billion||$7.846 billion|
|2019||$69.655 billion||$1.57 billion||$9.876 billion|
|2020||$84.169 billion||$2.26 billion||$11.591 billion|
|2021||$114.934 billion||$2.99 billion||$14.043 billion|
|2022||$113.642 billion||$2.65 billion||$15.262 billion|
Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any data about the company’s ad expenditure before 2014, so we only have this limited data to go by. Though, it seems like we haven’t missed the biggest leaps in expenditure, as 2018 was the year when Facebook increased its ad expenditure by 243% (from $324 million to $1.11 billion).
This investment seemed to pay off big time since Facebook made $55.031 billion in ad revenue that year, an increase of around 37.7% from last year’s $39.942 billion.
I also don’t have any information about Facebook’s revenue from marketing and sales, but we can see a consistent increase in expenditure over the years, even in 2022 when their revenue took a loss and even their ad expenditure decreased.
Again, we see money being well spent and investments that pay off immensely, so it seems that someone is making the right choices up there at Meta.
What Happened in 2022?
That’s why you’re here, right? You must be wondering if Facebook is headed for the gutters, seeing as 2022 was the first time in the company’s history that its revenue decreased. Not by much, true, but still.
Well, it all began in October of 2021 when Mark Zuckerberg announced the downfall of Facebook and the emergence of Meta. That’s right, the moment Facebook became Meta and the company’s focus shifted to the Metaverse, the downtrend began.
As I mentioned in the intro, Facebook’s market cap had reached $1 trillion before the announcement, and right now, it’s a “measly” $441.76 billion, a 55.824% decrease in total. Which is astounding, to say the least.
Reality Labs, Meta’s virtual reality sector, has been a monstrous money pit, it seems. It ate about $9.4 billion in the first three quarters of 2022, and in the last three months of 2022, Meta spent another $4.28 billion on their VR division.
The only problem with Meta’s renewed focus on the Metaverse is that it likely won’t become a viable source of income for quite some time. The virtual reality industry is still in its infancy, relatively speaking, and not many people are in on it.
Zuckerberg himself seems to acknowledge this in a company meeting at the end of 2022 when he said that WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger would “probably going to be the next major pillar of our business“. He was referring to integrating ads into the two apps, one way or another.
He also said that 20% of Meta’s entire spending goes to Reality Labs, which is quite a lot, and investors are certainly not happy.
But did that stop him from developing a pair of $1,500 eyeball-tracking headsets that will track your eyes for targeted ads? Zuckerberg was listening, alright, just not to Meta’s investors but rather to his internal monologue praising the metaverse.
Lastly, Meta did issue a statement to CNB where they said that “We do anticipate that Reality labs operating losses in 2023 will grow significantly year-over-year. Beyond 2023, we expect to pace Reality Labs investments such that we can achieve our goal of growing overall company operating income in the long run.“
That…doesn’t sound at all encouraging. While the metaverse and virtual reality may be profitable in the future, it’s Facebook’s advertising business that still brings them 99% of the big bucks right now. Well, the bucks are not as big as before since Mark’s obsession with the Matrix.
But who am I to say that Zuckerberg doesn’t have his eyes set on the big prize and the long-term prospects? He’s taken the company from a dorm project to a $1 trillion market-cap business in little over 17 years, after all.
Who knows what else this man is capable of?
I estimate that unless Meta refocuses on advertising or brings in some new sources of revenue, their finances may continue on the decline, but that remains to be seen.
Until the next one, cheers!
- Statista – Annual Revenue Generated by Meta Platforms from 2009 to 2022
- Statista – Annual Advertising Revenue of Meta Platforms Worldwide from 2009 to 2022
- Statista – Annual Advertising Expense of Meta Platforms from 2014 to 2022
- Statista – Annual Marketing and Sales Costs of Meta Platforms from 2010 to 2022
- Business of Apps – Facebook Revenue and Usage Statistics (2023)
- CNBC – Meta Plans to Lose Even More Money Building the Metaverse While Its Ads Business Shrinks
- Gizmodo – Meta’s New Headset Will Track Your Eyes for Targeted Ads
- Gizmodo – Forget the Metaverse, Zuck Says WhatsApp Could Be the Real Money Machine
- Gizmodo – Meta Is Spending More Than $1 Billion per Month on the Metaverse
- Protocol – Facebook Just Became a Trillion-Dollar Company
- CNBC – Facebook Scrambles to Escape Stock’s Death Spiral as Users Flee, Sales Drop